George Crum Birthday & Fun Facts

Height, Age, Net Worth, Biography & More

Akinwalere Olaleye
Feb 29, 2024 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on May 20, 2022
Edited by Lara Simpson
Fact-checked by Naman Khanna
Let's take a moment and appreciate George Crum, the creator of our favorite snack.
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All ages
Read time: 7.0 Min

About George Crum

Born on July 15, 1824, in Saratoga County, George Crum became famous for inventing potato chips.
While his father, Abraham Speck, was an African American, Crum's mother, Diana Tull, was a Native American who belonged to the Huron Tribe. George's sister Catherine Speck was also an American Chef.
Crum was previously known as George Speck. It is said that Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, a regular patron at the restaurant where George worked, popularized the name 'Crum.' It is also believed that this person, Vanderbilt, was also partially responsible for the invention of potato chips.
Like many other popular foods, there are also many myths about the origin of this dish. Some say the recipe for potato chips was already available in many American and British cookbooks long before Crum invented it. At the same time, other sources claim that the actual creator of this delicious snack was George Crum's sister Catherine Speck. But whoever it was, we should always be grateful to that person.
In the rest of this article, we will discuss the life of George Speck and learn some interesting facts about this person and his invention.

George Crum Net Worth, Earnings & Spending Habits

What was George Crum's net worth?

Though nothing much is known about George Crum's net worth, some people believe that it is somewhere around $950,000. George Crum has led a very successful life and is generally considered the creator of potato chips.

Height, Age & Physical Attributes

How old was George Crum?

George Crum was born on July 15, 1824. So, at the time of his demise in 1914, he was 90 years old.

Childhood And Education

As is already mentioned, George Speck was born to parents of mixed race, African American father and Native American mother. It is also believed that he had German and Spanish blood. He spent his childhood in Saratoga County in New York with his sister, another renowned chef, Catherine Speck.
Back in those times, life was never easy for people of mixed races. Thus, George and his family had to face difficult circumstances, financial and others. As a child, he was a bright boy but never received an opportunity to pursue education and started working at an early age to support his family.
Initially, George Speck worked as a wild-animal trapper and a tour guide at the Adirondack Mountains. However, he did not find these jobs interesting and quit one after another. It took some time, but he finally discovered his niche: cooking. Soon, he gave it a shot and was hired as a chef at a high-end restaurant in Saratoga Springs called Moon's Lake House.
As is already mentioned, Moon's Lake House was an extremely famous restaurant. So much so that tourists from Manhattan and other nearby cities used to visit the place for a good time with their families. It is also believed that George received the name 'Crum' from a regular customer at Moon's Lake House who often forgot his surname. Another theory says that George inherited the name from his father Abraham Speck, a jockey and was known by the nickname 'Crum.'

Family, Romance, And Relationships

Who was George Crum's partner?

In his lifetime, George Speck married twice. The first one was in 1853 with Elizabeth Jarrett; the couple had four children together (three sons: Gilbert, John, and William; one daughter: Anne) and ended in divorce in 1857. Hester Esther Bennett, George's second wife, was a regular customer at Crum's Place. They got married in 1860 and stayed together until she died in 1906.

Career And Professional Highlights

Best Known For…

Even though he was deprived of education, George Crum started working at an early age. He had a passion for cooking and ended up owning his own restaurant by 1860.
Inventing potato chips was a significant part of George Crum's life, but some other incidents made him quite popular. To begin with, George Speck also worked with the renowned Mohawk Indian cook Pete Francis at a restaurant in Ballston Spa called Sans Souci Hotel. Then he moved on to Moon's Lake House in Saratoga Springs and worked there for a long time. The place was owned by Cary Moon and was famous for its french fries.
However, one particular customer, probably Vanderbilt, sent the food back by saying that the french fries were too thick. So, to get back at him, George Crum fried paper-thin potato slices and served it with a lot of salt. The customer liked it very much, and that's how George's saratoga chips came to exist.
Before long, Moon's Lake House became even more popular, and people started traveling miles to visit the place for saratoga chips. During this time, George became very popular and decided to open his own restaurant. It was Crum's House and was established in 1860. The restaurant was known for having baskets of potato chips (which Crum called potato crunchers) on every table.
Eventually, George and Crum's House both became extremely popular among people. It is said that George's success was based on two things: his exceptional culinary skills and his unbiased mentality towards customers. A millionaire and a daily-wage earner in Crum's House were given equal treatment. If the latter had to wait an hour to get food, so did the former.

Other Interesting George Crum Facts And Trivia

The earliest evidence of potato chips can be found in 'The Cook's Oracle,' a recipe book written by William Kitchiner, a British Doctor. The book was published in 1822, and it encouraged people to consume more 'potato fried in shavings' (as was called by Kitchiner), for the author believed that potato chips were a nutritious snack.
Another evidence, though not as early as William Kitchiner's book, is a newspaper article dating back to 1849. This article talks about a cook named Eliza who possessed creative culinary skills and served her customers with thinly sliced fried crisps. The article was published four years before George Crum thought of punishing his cranky customer by serving him potato chips.
Another theory of the invention of potato chips involves George Crum's sister, Catherine Speck. It is said that while working together at Moon's Lake House in Saratoga Springs, she took some thin slices of potato and accidentally dropped them in a hot frying pan. When George tasted the fried potato slices, he enthusiastically approved the food.
Following the invention of this potato chip, the popularity of Moon's Lake House and George Crum increased whoppingly. It became a place for rich tourists and reputed people. For example, William H. Vanderbilt of Rhode Island asked Crum to prepare canvasback ducks because he couldn't find a place that could cook this dish properly.
For the elite of the society, Crum's chips remained a delicacy until an entrepreneur called Herman Lay started introducing this food to the South in 1920. Before long, Lay became very popular and managed to reach a wider audience. Soon, Crum's legacy got overshadowed by Herman's Lay's mass production and international distribution of the snack.
However, Crum's House closed down a long time back in 1890 when George Crum decided to retire from the business.
It is also remarkable that even if the whole world considered George Crum the inventor of potato chips, he never applied for a patent. Another reason for this can be that African American people were not allowed to own a patent back then.
When the New York Tribune published an article on Crum's House in 1891, they did not mention George's saratoga chips. There was also no mention of this in George's biography published in 1893. However, we can find one of his obituaries crediting him for inventing the food.
However, seeing the rapidly increasing popularity of Moon's Lake House, the owner Cary Moon tried to claim credit for the invention multiple times. He started mass-producing potato chips and sold them in paper cones and boxes. Nonetheless, he couldn't manage to get the credit for creating saratoga chips despite all his effort.
A magazine called Western Folklore published an article in 1983 claiming that potato chips were first created in Saratoga, New York.
Also, in the '70s, a renowned chips package manufacturing company, St. Regis Paper Company, published an advertisement in two magazines called Fortune and Time. They included George Crum and his story of the invention of potato chips.
Hester Esther Bennett, George's second wife, died in 1906. They did not have any kids apart from the ones from George Crum's first marriage.
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George Crum Birthday & Fun Facts Facts

Date of Birth

1824-07-14

Date of Death

1914-07-21

Place of Birth

Saratoga County, New York

Occupation

Chef

Net Worth

950000

Partner

Hester Esther Bennett

Parents

Abraham Speck, Diana Tull

Siblings

Catherine Speck
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Sources

networthpost.orgbrookstonbeerbulletin.comen.wikipedia.orgbrookstonbeerbulletin.comwww.thefamouspeople.comiloveancestry.comwww.blackpast.org

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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